Phew! After a constipated couple of months, we finally made it with No. 2. Like someone said once, when you decide you want to put out a new paper, you first decide what you want it to be, aim for it in the first issue, and usually miss by miles. Then the second time you take better aim, get a bit closer, and so on. We think we got closer in this second issue to what we originally planned to do, which was to present a libertarian perspective on Asia, past and present: in a word, "to protect the future by opening up the past".
Where We’re At
For the past two centuries or so, Asian history has been the constant casualty of successive rewriting attempts. First came the Western imperialists, under whose guiding hand educated Asians came to date the birth of their history and culture to the day when the "long ships", "black ships" etc. first appeared on the horizon. The mental distortions which this myth created kept the great mass of the Asian peoples in check for more than a century (with a few exceptions, such as the Korean anarchist/nationalist historian, Shin Chae-ho).
Nationalism, much maligned though it is, was the strongest weapon with which to fight the corrupt, semi-feudal regimes foisted upon the people by their colonial-educated elites and their white masters. Stifled in the beginning by the subtle process of cultural imperialism (recently displayed in the carrying-off of Vietnamese babies to the US), it found a voice in the post-Lenin programme for colonial liberation. However, instead of freely encouraging nationalist feelings, this programme ultimately subordinated them to a precisely mapped-out future. "Nationalism" meant "bourgeois nationalism", through which the aspirations of the great mass of the people were again stifled in the interests of the Kremlin.
The corollary to all this was that, just as the pre-liberation history of the peoples of Asia began with their colonization by Western imperialism, so the history of their struggle for liberation began with the founding of the CPs in each country. China, Korea, Indochina - all are victims of this process. Before the event, there was only chaos; from that time the light shines at the end of the tunnel. All ruling elites, in Asia as elsewhere, seek to justify and whitewash their acquisition of power, fearing the avenging wrath of history.
Thus Asian history, already one re-written, was re-re-written yet still with a view to obscuring the truth in the name of preordained destiny. The Asian anarchists were but a tiny minority of those affected by these successive master-plans for cultural/political hegemony, yet their experience was typical. What we'll be trying to do in Libero International is, among other things, to set the historical record straight, to document the role of the Asian peoples themselves in their fight for freedom and dignity. "To protect the future" means to destroy the myth that only thru the all-seeing eye of the CP can Asians view the road ahead. "Opening up the past" means showing that the Asian peoples existed long before the imperialists arrived, and began struggling against the foreign yoke long before the party line told them how to do it. Confidence in the past creates confidence for the future.
On the other hand, this is not to advocate some minority position which denies the facts of life in Asia today. The dominoes are falling neatly into place - SE Asia is "going communist" (as we type this, PRG soldiers are marching into Saigon), and anarchists must be very clear about where they stand. "Neither Washington nor Hanoi!" was the rallying-cry of the 60s. This slogan is out of date. An anarchist society will not be created overnight, least of all in Asia, where a "workers'state" led by the CP is a very likely outcome of all the liberation movements for some time to come. For authoritarian Marxism is a logical outgrowth of capitalism; it sustains and exploits the mental contortions generated by "free competition".
The CPs in Asia not only would not, but could not create a libertarian society in an area devastated by high explosive, defoliated by super-insecticides, de-humanized by population control measures, and now, most probably, to be de-stabilized by CIA intrigue. However, what they have achieved, through calling upon the power to resist of the people themselves, is the most important revolutionary task in Asia today: the discrediting and expulsion of Amerikan neo-fascist imperialism. Western anarchists who do not recognize these facts only perpetuate the West's inherent blindness towards Asia. The Marxist liberation movements in Asia today, in the post-Amerikan (Amerikan military, that is - the CIA is far from defeated) era, must be given critical support, just as the Russian anarchists initially supported the Bolsheviks. When they begin to turn the revolution back on itself, however, as the Bolsheviks did, they must be attacked and exposed without fail.
This demands, as Kropotkin said, that we not only talk about revolution, but actively prepare ourselves for the work to be done during the process, particularly economic work. It also demands that we understand the importance of nationalism for popular mobilization in Asia. In a future issue we mean to put together a more comprehensive treatment of this question, probably the most important one facing anarchists in Asia today. For the moment though, the short biography of Shin Chae-ho should provide food for thought.
Anyway, like we said, it was quite a strain to get this issue out. The four of us in the collective have all had various things to keep us busy - one was in Korea, another in Europe. We've also been flooded with letters - they're piling up, too. Worst of all, the Yasaka coop, mentioned in the Korea article in this issue, was totally burned out last month. Everything was lost - farm buildings, personal things, clothes, even cash. A lot of work is going to be needed to get it back to normal, and an appeal has gone out for cash here in Japan. So please be patient if the "bi-monthly" sometimes stretches the time limit a bit.
We forgot to say last time, Libero Int'l costs 20p/50c per single copy;Y1.20/$3.00 for a ''users'' sub (6 issues). Institutions' rate is double, to cover the losses we make on selling cheap to individuals. "Government agencies" get hit for YlIV7 in the UK, and for $2.50/15.00 in the US. Prices in other areas available on request.
We also made some cock-ups last time - some through carelessness, some through translation problems, some just because we're still learning ourselves. These are listed at the back. Since we'll no doubt make more mistakes, this will probably become a regular feature.
A lot of people were late getting No. 1. This is because the air mail rates are just too heavy for the price we want to sell the magazine at. That goes for people who wrote for samples too - a bit of patience, 'hif you don't mind. Since there is this great time-lag between mailing and delivery, we'll continue to send free to all the addresses we have until the next issue. People who don't respond by then will not receive any more our lists are a bit out of date, and we can't afford to keep mailing out free unless it's in exchange. Although our main aim is free exchange, we need to sell as many copies as possible to keep going in this format. PLEASE SUBSCRIBE!!
One more thing: when you send us bread, please don't send cheques - they cost too much to cash here. Send either money orders or just plain old cash. DON'T LET THE BASTARDS RIP US OFF!!
Thought you might like to know who we are (or who we say we are, at any rate):
KUSAURA NAOHIDE: the organization freak - into economic history, Proudhon and international solidarity. Now running SFIC, and trying to translate Solidarity's Workers'control & the Economics of Self-Management into Japanese.
OZEKI HIROSHI: took part in the International Congress at Carrara - where he got well pissed off with the traditional-type anarchist movement. Since then he's translated Brinton's Bolsheviks and Workers' Control into Japanese and wondered where it's at.
QUINCE O'TOOLE: for the last five years has worked hard in the movements to free Taiwanese, South Korean and Amerikan political prisoners; keeps two cats called Kropotkin and Krishna, and a 16-month human called Natania Miwako.
WAT TYLER: is hung up on the lessons of history, especially Chinese and Korean, and is working on a book about the Chinese anarchist movement. Thinks anarchist theory is all very well, but that the answer probably lies in the soil anyway...